TLDR : I finished my portfolio, I survived my first tech interviews, I got my first full-time full-stack job, I kept said full-time full-stack job, I moved out and moved counties, I got my first writing commission for another blog (yeh, I didn't think my writing was good enough either), I carried out some freelance work at the weekends, I started a podcast, I started a coding course, the conservatives screwed everything up but people are onto them now (except Labour), and I had a nervous breakdown.
All told, this year has been strange, hectic and full of surprises - pandemic aside. I thought it had the potential to be busy (or 'hell' as I often prophesied) given that my 2020 was so slow-paced, but I didn't anticipate it being quite so manic.
Don't get me wrong, it's been an amazing year full of achievements (lil' pat on the back), but it's also been a year of unexpected changes, learning and self discovery.
I got my first job in tech. I've already written about this so I won't belabour the point, but it's the nuts.
I started a podcast. It will be released in 2022, it's about tech, it doesn't have a name yet and I'm looking forward to releasing it.
I started a coding course. As someone who's taught themselves how to go from no-code to landing their first role inside a year, and as I keep receiving messages asking for guidance, help and tuition, I thought it was a great opportunity to put my own learning resources together. It's a fairly long way off at this point -- I've literally only planned it out -- but the aim is to be able to take someone who has never written a line of code before, has no real understanding of how apps, development and the internet works, all the way up to being job ready, complete with full stack projects and a portfolio with CV and interview help. Super excited to get this underway!
Blogging. I haven't blogged here quite as much as I would have liked, although I do have a few posts written that I haven't released for one reason or another. I am very happy to have started blogging on behalf of other people. I quite enjoy this writing lark and it's a skill I'd like to improve. So if any of ya'll out there want some things written by me, you know where I am!
Freelance projects. I've had a few freelance projects that got postponed from 2019 and 2020 due to the pandemic. It's been a challenge to manage my time in a way where I could give everything the time and attention that it required and deserved, but I think I just about got through it without compromising quality! At the very least, it taught me how to improve my time management and showed me how much time there is in a day.
This leads me onto my 'breakdown'. I'm writing a long, detailed post about this experience on behalf of a mental health platform which I will link when it's released. Long story short, I had a very long month in August where I couldn't sleep, eat or go out due to constant, pretty severe panic attacks. Navigating my way through this has been one of the biggest challenges of my adult life, but I have learned a lot from it and I'm pleased to say I'm 'on the other side' now.
My main points to takeaway from this experience are:
- Mental health is something you have, whether you realise it or not.
- You have to look after your mental health in the same way as your physical health.
- It doesn't take a huge event for your mental health to be affected.
- Looking after the small stresses in life as soon as you recognise them is vital.
- Practice mindfulness.
- Organise your thoughts and objectives. (The GTD Method is great. I use an app called Sorted and it's amazing)
- Sleep. Sleep at appropriate hours for an appropriate number of hours.
- Be true to your values, wants and needs. Don't do things that go against your moral compass. Say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no.
I had planned on trying to buy my first house with my partner in 2022, however after being hit with anxiety, it became evident that my environment was a big contributor. That's not to say that I was living under bad circumstances or in a bad area, just that I knew I felt a lot happier and calmer in the area I was planning on moving to.
I also had (and still have) mixed feelings on mortgages and owning vs renting, so my partner suggested that renting could remove any stress associated with having a mortgage, and speed the moving process up at the same time.
I still plan on buying a house one day, but right now, it's not right for me and I'm very happy in my new home in my favourite city.
So, 2021 has been real. For anyone struggling with their mental health, even in a small way, it really helps to talk about it and find solutions to problems, however seemingly small and trivial, especially in a world so hell-bent on causing mental health problems.
Thank you guys for joining me on my software engineering journey this year. The comments and messages I've received have been fantastic -- I'm aiming to make time for more and better content next year to help aspiring devs.
I wish you a very happy Christmas and new year, and all the health, wealth and happiness for 2022.